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Family Awarded $2.3M in Navy Asbestos Case

Family Awarded $2.3M in Long-term U.S. Navy Asbestos-Exposure Case

John Crane Inc. Found Liable for Product Defects

SAN FRANCISCO – September 24, 2009 – A San Francisco County jury has awarded $2.3 million to the family of a man who spent his career working as a civilian marine machinist and maintenance manager for the U.S. Navy. Peter Galassi developed pleural malignant mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure aboard numerous naval vessels.

The verdict, which awarded the widow and family of Mr. Galassi $2,325,875 with a breakdown of $325,872 for economic damages and $2.0M for non-economic, was announced September 22, 2009.

Mr. Galassi’s duties included maintaining, repairing and overhauling, pumps, valves and mechanical systems within naval steam propulsion systems, as well as the equipment’s multitudes of asbestos-containing component parts aboard the USS HigbeeUSS SanctuaryUSS Richmond TurnerUSS RangerUSS HorneUSS Midway, and USS Enterprise. The work took place daily over long hours for many years exposing him to tremendous volumes of asbestos dust in tight, unventilated quarters such as the engine rooms, fire rooms, and pump rooms.

The jury found John Crane Inc. 2 percent liable for defective product design and failure to warn.

Last year the court denied summary judgment to equipment defendants in this case claiming that the U.S. Navy’s sophistication and knowledge of asbestos hazards eliminated the defendants’ duties to warn about the dangerous condition of their products. The ruling, handed down in September 2008, represents the first ruling of the San Francisco trial courts on summary judgment on the sophisticated user doctrine in Navy asbestos exposure litigation. The Defendants’ petitions for review to the California Court of Appeal and the California Supreme Court were both denied.

“We are please with the outcome for the family,” said WKP attorney and lead trial counsel Brent Zadorozny, “Navy asbestos-exposure cases are never easy, but this one was especially challenging in light of the sophisticated user doctrine argued last year and the more recent Taylor decision.”

Brent also successfully tried a similar case earlier this year for the Earl Haupt case, overcoming the decision by the California Court of Appeal in Taylor vs. Crane Co.which releases manufacturers from a duty to warn of the dangers of asbestos-containing components used in their products if those subcomponents are manufactured or supplied by a third party.

WKP attorneys have continued to successfully challenge Taylor as seen last week when the Second District Court of Appeal of California, reversed the trial court’s dismissal of an action against U.S. Navy equipment manufacturers in O’Neil et al, v. Crane Co. et al.

WKP partner Gary Paul summarized, “Taylor lets manufacturers off the hook for what they know and have known about the dangers of asbestos since the 1940s, but were reticent to share for decades with unknowing consumers.”

“For this family, at least, justice has prevailed,” said Mr. Zadorozny. “Mrs. Galassi is grateful to the jury for sorting through the subtleties of the law and holding these defendants accountable for her husband’s devasting illness and cruel death,” said Mr. Zadorozny.

Peter Galassi, a very youthful looking man and recreational runner, was in excellent health before he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He and his wife, Louise, of 37 years loved spending time together outdoors. They have two adult children and one grandchild. Mr. Galassi died in July 2005 at the age of 60, after 20 years of dedicated work with the U.S. Navy, and just over six months after being diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelima.

About Waters Kraus & Paul

Waters Kraus & Paul is the West Coast practice of Waters & Kraus, LLP – a nationally recognized plaintiffs’ firm concentrating on complex product liability and personal injury/wrongful death cases, particularly asbestos-mesothelioma. In addition to toxic tort litigation, the firm’s diverse practice includes pharmaceutical prodcut liability, negligence, elder financial abuse, consumer product liability, and class actions, as well as qui tam (whistleblower) and commercial litigation. With offices in California, Texas, and Maryland, Waters & Kraus, LLP has litigated cases in jurisdictions across the United States on behalf of individuals from all 50 states, as well as foreign governments.

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